The Plott Balsam's...what can I say, I love 'em. Reaching elevations in excess of 6,000-feet this rugged collection of peaks is none-the-less a rather un-visited range, despite their proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains just to the north. In the last year-and-a-half I've methodically knocked off each of the Plott's major summits. I undertook and completed the South Beyond 6000 traverse of the range in December of last year and in January of 2015 I had made the demanding climb to Sylva Pinnacle. Only one summit of the Plott Balsam's yet eluded me, that of Blackrock Mountain. Today, I'd be remedying this fact.
Blackrock Mountain isn't the highest peak in the range, though it does rise to a respectable height of 5,810'. Located about 2.5-miles south of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the easiest way to reach the summit is via the path which runs from said roadway south. The summit, comprised of a small cluster of rocky crags, commands an magnificent panorama of the surrounding mountains. The view of the Plott Balsam's to the north is particularly impressive. On top of it all, a hike to Blackrock is likely to provide solitude. I didn't pass a single other hiker on this spectacular hike!
To reach Blackrock Mountain I'd be using its namesake trail, which begins directly across the Blue Ridge Parkway from the Waterrock Knob Access Road. There's no trailhead parking along the Parkway so I began the hike at the Browning Knob Overlook about half way up to the Waterrock parking area. The trail is easy to follow but is a bit of a leg-stretcher as it climbs up and over the summit of Yellow Face (6,032') and then bounces up and down along the ridge before arriving at the summit. Despite being a ridge walk there's nearly 1,500-vertical-feet of elevation gain to overcome on this hike! Decent views can be had along the way to break thing s up, particularly from Yellow Face and from a couple widely spaced spots along the trail where the trees part enough to provide limited vistas. For the return I'd simply be re-trace my steps.
So, come on along with me as I complete my exploration of the spectacular Plott Balsam Range. As with the other hikes I've done in the Plott's, this one didn't disappoint! Enjoy!!
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 35.456199, -83.142890
Mileage Hiked: 5.2 miles Hike Duration: 2:30
Trailhead Temp: 60'F Trail Traffic: None!
Min. Elevation: 5,615' Max. Elevation: 6,032'
Total Vertical Gain: 1,450' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 279'